Some Advisors Steal:
It is not unusual to find a bad apple in a bushel but it seems lately
there have been a lot of bad advisor apples. Of course it is hard not
to think of Bernard Madoff who reportedly stole Billions from his clients
for many years. He was head of the NASD at one time which makes
him nearly at the top of the financial foodchain. Recently I found an
article online at AdvisorOne.com on the 12 Worst Financial
Advisors for 2012 (That is just one year). These folks came in all
shapes and sizes and stole lots of money including one stealing about
$400,000 from clients including an Alzheimers patient. One fellow in
Washington State stole $7 Million, another stole $30 Million using
emails for penny stocks and so on. On a closer note one fellow from
Reisterstown, MD was found guilty of stealing $838,000 from clients
including a sick child and an elderly dementia sufferer.
What you can do:
Verify statements with the custodian:
If your statements are produced by the advisor firm instead of where
your money is held by a custodian then you run the risk of not
knowing for sure if your money is there. This is a common trick
(Bernie Madoff used it) to lure clients asleep while the money was
stolen. At Atlantic your statements come directly to you (or you
go directly to their website) from Scottrade, Inc. who has custody of
your accounts. It's better that way.
Be Certain you understand your investments:
Another way to separate you from your money is for Advisors to sell
you a product that is so complicated that it winds up having more risk
than you ever bargained for. Some Advisors suggest trading options.
Some buy stocks on margin but how would you feel if you got a phone
call one day saying the stocks you had bought on margin fell and you
needed to come up with XXXXX amount of money to cover them. At
Atlantic investing in options, buying stocks on margin or ARS
products are not options. Low cost index funds and no-load
mutual funds offer plenty of market exposure.
Before you do business with a broker or investment adviser the
SEC suggests you check them out. Go to:
For a Maryland advisor or firm:
go to: www.oag.state.md.us/securities/ They have a search
function where you can enter the name(s) to check on and links to
some very helpful investor information including that on the SEC site.
They also have a list of administrative actions taken against persons
and firms going back to 2004!